MGAs dominate the agricultural insurance sector's intermediated market, and the industry has undergone significant transformation in recent years, with many brands going through consolidation and realigning their distribution models.
In addition, the agricultural insurance industry faces some tough recruitment challenges, with many providers, like Farmsure Underwriters Ltd, looking for partnerships to help them fill skills gaps and remain competitive in an industry experiencing rapid change.
As cutting-edge core insurance platform providers, INSTANDA's technology partnership with Farmsure has helped the company increase its capacity for underwriting new business enquiries in relaunching its complex Farm Combined platform.
In this case study, we interview Farmsure CEO Andrew Bell and MD Mark Benger and discuss how the success of this partnership ensures prosperity in the turbulent years ahead.
Mark starts the interview by explaining that we're in a new digital era now, and insurers must keep up with consumer demand.
"I recognise that going forward over the next five years, we're going to have a generation coming through that expects to be able to do things on a phone, iPad, or laptop. They're not sending written presentations in and then waiting a considerable time to get responses as the market always was before," he said.
This poses a considerable challenge for insurance providers reliant on legacy tech and outdated ways of thinking. Mark explains that gathering policy information can be difficult for those seeking complex cover, such as farmers and agricultural businesses. Farmsure needed a personalised, bespoke system to cater for such risks to support an experienced underwriting team.
There are many aspects to consider when drawing up a policy, such as farming equipment, buildings, contents etc. There is also information like livestock disease outbreaks in farms and neighbouring areas, which customers may not be aware of due to symptoms not being prevalent yet, or a lack of understanding around the risk factors that may impact policy premiums.
However, by taking a digital-first approach, underwriters in this industry can access a wealth of third-party data resources to help them accurately assess risk and help customers submit their policy applications with less concern about gathering all of the right information up-front.
Platforms like INSTANDA are designed to lead brokers through the policy generation process intuitively, asking relevant questions to assess risk and adding endorsements where necessary but still providing space for a risk to be underwritten on a bespoke basis. As a result, the application process is much more streamlined for all parties.
Andrew comments, "From INSTANDA, I was looking for significant operational efficiencies as well as enhanced data capabilities to better aid underwriting decision-making around pricing, performance and risk selection. What I like about INSTANDA is the ability to link with third-party data, providing us with additional information we may need."
Farmsure's Farm Combined product platform was relaunched for new business enquiries in October 2021. So far, the brokers using it have praised its ability to improve efficiency.
"I want to take away some of the daily grind around inputting, that sort of thing and put it into getting a better outcome from a performance point of view. From a new business perspective, we have definitely seen some significant changes. But it's always a challenge when introducing something new to your staff. Some people will never see that new technology is going to be of benefit. But over time, they have changed their mind and said it's made a massive difference," said Mark.
INSTANDA's no-code and modular framework enables companies to build workflows from scratch to suit their requirements. This allows companies that want to keep aspects of their existing workflows the same while ensuring that their architecture is up-to-date and scalable for their changing needs.
For companies like Farmsure, this is especially important, as Andrew notes that the new system has enabled the company to address its challenges of growth versus resource.
"Having sufficient experienced technical resources will always be a challenge, so we need a system that can run as fast as we need it to, from a growth and efficiency point of view, to support our team. By 2024-2025, we'd expect to see our INSTANDA system running at a pace that matches our planned growth," said Andrew.
The Farm Combined product is near completion of its current migration to the new platform. The Farm Motor product is expected to be finalised in its development by Q4 this year. Mark notes that migrating their previous system to the new platform and tweaking their management reporting and renewal processes are among the few things needed to ensure all links in the value chain can benefit from their all-new and streamlined insurance platform.
Andrew notes that after this process is complete, the complex Farm Combined Policy project will act as a template for future Farmsure product builds.
"A key part of our plan over the next five to ten years is product development. So what we're expecting from INSTANDA is the ability to deliver fast product development. With our smallholders' policy, we're hoping for a fairly quick build as it's quite a straightforward product. After this is complete, it will give us a system development pathway for the new products we have in the pipeline," he said.
Mark closes the interview with some final thoughts on the technology partnership with INSTANDA,
"When we first started, we had some great service. It was fantastic. INSTANDA took on board the project, managed it, got the right people in, and started it all off. They have members of their team that are very knowledgeable, very good at what they do. They helped us out to no end. So yeah, it's been great working with INSTANDA."